Ivor was born in GLASGOW on 15th January 1923 100 yards from the Glasgow Rangers football ground, Ibrox, to a Jewish middle-class family, the descendant of Eastern European Jews who arrived in Scotland three generations before him. His grandfather was a pedlar of working men's caps and his father branched out into furniture and cutlery. "My parents were orthodox Jews. My father moved from the orthodox to the progressive synagogue. He had been able to read Hebrew but wasn't understanding the traditional service. For me the language was then exposed as boring. I liked the incomprehensible noise of foreign words. Victimised by anti-Semitic teachers at school for not being a "real Scot" he got the strap 200 times for not being able to write.
Ivor Cutler had a close friendship with Phyllis King over a period of 40 years up to his death in 2006. They were regarded as partners for much of the time they knew each other, although they did not set up house together - preferring instead to keep their own flats in London even when spending much time together. There were extended periods when they were living together either at Ivor's flat or at Phyllis's home in Chalk Farm, near Primrose Hill in the London Borough of Camden.